The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's CurseThe Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Published by: Farrar Straus and Giroux on March 4, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 368
Source: Purchased
Book Details
Rating: ★★★★

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. Set in a richly imagined new world,

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

As much as I enjoyed The Winner’s Curse, it didn’t completely blow my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was a very good book, but I didn’t think it was ZOMG SO FREAKING UNBELIEVABLY AMAZING!!! I think I just expected a bit more from it, after all the hype and raving. It was still really good, it just didn’t totally wow me.

One of the most interesting parts of this book was the conflict. I could really see and feel how confusing it was. How do you fall in love with someone who’s supposed to be your enemy? How can you love a person but hate what they’re doing? View Spoiler »

This same point is also was made the romance delicious! Kestrel and Arin were totally star-crossed lovers. Forbidden. Never going to be accepted. Mmm, delicious. They had a slow burning romance built on this conflict.

Overall, I found myself becoming really attached to the world that Marie Rutkoski created. I loved the struggle between the two groups: Herrani and Valorians. Both of them had interesting cultures, and I almost wasn’t sure who to root for. View Spoiler »

I think the one part of the book that disappointed me was that it felt slow at times. This was mostly true at the beginning of the story. There was a while when I wasn’t sure where the book was going and there wasn’t much action or plot development. It definitely picked up at the end View Spoiler » , but there was still that lull in the beginning/middle.

The Winner’s Curse was definitely an interesting read and I’m psyched for the series! I’m just a tad disappointed that I didn’t adore it as much as other people seem to. As much as I enjoyed the book, I don’t imagine that it will stay ingrained in my mind for a super long time. Unlike what some people said, I don’t feel like The Winner’s Curse has ruined me for all other books.

The Verdict


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  1. This book is really really hyped, but you’re not the first one I hear saying it’s a bit slow, especially in the beginning. I do like the forbidden love aspect, even though it makes me roll my eyes a bit. Lol! I hope to read this soon!

    Nadia @ Nadia Reads recently posted: The Next Book
  2. This review is SO spot on. I completely agree with you. I loved the world she created, but it definitely dragged, esp at the beginning and I didn’t LOVE it as much as others, although I did enjoy it. Not TOO impressed by the romance either. Great review!

    Vi recently posted: As the Bump Grows: Week 17
  3. This is the first review I’ve read for this book surprisingly. It sounds like my type of thing, but I’m not entirely convinced by the hype.

    I think you’ve convinced me to read this, although I’m still a little skeptical.

    Brilliant review, Ashley! 🙂

  4. Hype often raises our expectations too much which can be a pain. But at least you still enjoyed it! I’m definitely looking forward to getting into this series sometime and seeing how the other books are.

    Great review!

    Alice recently posted: Book Haul (#1)
  5. I agree with your review completely. I thought this was a perfectly enjoyable book, but it didn’t blow my mind. I actually wasn’t completely sold on Arin or his relationship with Kestrel. I am super excited to find out what happens in the next book though. Kestrel’s choice was very interesting and I can’t wait to see what comes of it.

    Christal @ Badass Book Reviews recently posted: New Release Review: Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire
  6. I also loved this one. The characters were smart, complex and they challenge each other. I also found that the world building was really good and the writing was awesome. And, of course, the cover is breathtaking! I’ve had really good luck with fantasy lately…

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